The challenge this week was to create a special dinner aboard for Mother’s Day that would please both my mother, who loves her fresh fruits and vegetables, and her friend Gary who likes meat and potatoes and wonders why you would bother to eat vegetables when that is what meat eats. Enter Captain Peter’s grandmother’s potato salad recipe! You can serve this warm or cold — equally good. And in this case, I put it atop arugula for those of us that like vegetables, but left the meadow-sweepings off the plate for Gary.
You will need the following, fairly galley-friendly ingredients: 3 pounds red potatoes, one white onion, one bunch green onions, 3 celery stalks (with leaves if possible), 12 ounces cooked bacon, 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar (red wine or cider) and a bit of mayonnaise.
Peel the potatoes to your satisfaction. I like eating the peels — particularly with thin-skinned varieties like red — but others don’t, so I partially peel them and don’t work too hard at it. Chop them in bite-sized pieces, put them in a pot and cover with water. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially-covered, for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through but still firm.
Finely chop the white and green onions, celery, and parsley leaves. I use my hand-cranked food processor for efficiency. And the beauty that you will see later is that you can just make the vinaigrette in it to wash the rest of the good seasoning vegetables out.
Chop the cooked bacon into small seasoning pieces. This is the first thing I’ve found that my food processor is NOT good at chopping, but you know what works brilliantly? Kitchen shears! Like making paper snowflakes when you were little, only with bacon. Snip away. (Apologies for the picture quality…the Pilot Boat came back into her slip at this point and we had a bit of a wake…pirate sways, camera sways.)
Emulsify 3/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup vinegar. Again, if you do this in the food processor bowl you can easily get the rest of the onions and parsley out. If you have a sense for your personal salt and pepper quantity-preferences, add them to the vinaigrette now for easy and thorough distribution, but if you need to be at the finish line to determine what “to taste” means, that’s fine.
Toss the potatoes with the vegetables, bacon, vinaigrette, and about a teaspoon of salt and half-teaspoon of black pepper–to taste! Let this sit and marinate, stirring occasionally, until you are ready to serve. (I marinate at room temperature, letting it stay a bit warm, but you can chill it now if you want to serve it cold.)
Right before serving, add about 1/3 cup mayonnaise and stir through thoroughly. This will bind all the flavors together and turn any sloshy vinaigrette into a sauce that sticks deliciously.
Serve warm or cold, over greens or not. Tonight we had the salad with our marinated flank steak and mint chocolate pots de creme for dessert (watch for that recipe on Galley Pirates, coming soon). Mom’s got a thing for chocolate…Happy Mother’s Day, mom! Dig in, everyone…